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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

The sublime does not awaken pure pleasure


for my will to actualize it.

My satisfaction in the beautiful alone is without interest. (_b_) In respect of quantity, the beautiful is that which universally pleases. In respect of the agreeable, every one decides that his satisfaction in it is only a personal one; but if any one should affirm of a picture, that it is beautiful, he would expect that not only he, but every other one, would also find it so. Nevertheless, this judgment of the taste does not arise from conceptions; its universal validity is therefore purely subjective. I do not judge that all the objects of a species are beautiful, but only that a certain specific object will appear beautiful to every beholder. All the judgments of taste are individual judgments. (_c_) In respect of relation, that is beautiful in which we find the form of design, without representing to ourselves any specific design. (_d_) In respect of modality, that is beautiful which is recognized without a conception, as the object of a necessary satisfaction. Of every representation, it is at least possible, that it may awaken pleasure. The representation of the agreeable awakens actual pleasure. The representation of the beautiful, on the other hand, awakens pleasure necessarily. The necessity which is conceived in an aesthetic judgment, is a necessity for determining every thing by a judgment, which can be viewed as an example of a universal rule, though the rule itself cannot be stated. The subjective principle which lies at the basis of the judgment of taste, is therefore
a common sense, which determines what is pleasing, and what displeasing, only through feeling, and not through conception.

The _sublime_ is that which is absolutely, or beyond all comparison, great, compared with which every thing else is small. But now in nature there is nothing which has no greater. The absolutely great is only the infinite, and the infinite is only to be met with in ourselves, as idea. The sublime, therefore, is not properly found in nature, but is only carried over to nature from our own minds. We call that sublime in nature, which awakens within us the idea of the infinite. As in the beautiful there is prominent reference to quality, so, in the sublime, the most important element of all, is quantity; and this quantity is either greatness of extension (the mathematically sublime), or greatness of power (the dynamically sublime). In the sublime there is a greater satisfaction in the formless, than in the form. The sublime excites a vigorous movement of the heart, and awakens pleasure only through pain, _i. e._ through the feeling that the energies of life are for the moment restrained. The satisfaction in the sublime is hence not so much a positive pleasure, but rather an amazement and awe, which may be called a negative pleasure. The elements for an aesthetic judgment of the sublime are the same as in the feeling of the beautiful. (_a_) In respect of quantity, that is sublime which is absolutely great, in comparison with which every thing else is small. The aesthetic estimate of greatness does not lie, however, in numeration, but in the simple intuition of the subject. The greatness of an object of nature, which the imagination attempts in vain to comprehend, leads to a supersensible substratum, which is great beyond all the measures of the sense, and which has reference properly to the feeling of the sublime. It is not the object itself, as the surging sea, which is sublime, but rather the subject's frame of mind, in the estimation of this object. (_b_) In respect of quality, the sublime does not awaken pure pleasure, like the beautiful, but first pain, and through this, pleasure. The feeling of the insufficiency of our imagination, in the aesthetic estimate of greatness, gives rise to pain; but, on the other side, the consciousness of our independent reason, for which the faculty of imagination is inadequate, awakens pleasure. In this respect, therefore, that is sublime which immediately pleases us, through its opposition to the interest of the sense. (_c_) In respect of relation, the sublime suffers nature to appear as a power, indeed, but in reference to which, we have the consciousness of superiority. (_d_) In respect of modality, the judgments concerning the sublime are as necessarily valid, as those for the beautiful; only with this difference, that our judgment of the sublime finds an entrance to some minds, with greater difficulty than our judgment of the beautiful, since to perceive the sublime, culture, and developed moral ideas, are necessary.


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